My students are seated on the carpet for science and writing block. The expectations for my lesson are for them to write independently, for them to use capitals, spaces and periods and to sound out their words to write. It is important for me to let go of my constant chatter and let them write on their own to see if they understand what I have been teaching them. Doing the drawing first built up such an intense focus on their papers that they were excited to write. It is important to follow the CCSS and model the writing process, model the use of capitals, spaces and periods and to teach the phonemic segmentation so they can sound out the words to write. All these little skills layer on top of each other to create a complete writing product. I will engage my students by talking about playing in the snow.
"Over the weekend my family went up to play in the snow. How many of you have been to the snow? Wow, all of you have? Is snow hot or cold? Yes, it is very cold. My gloves always get wet and my hands get so cold. What are some of the things you can do in the snow? Of course, throw snowballs. Good one! Oh, you lay down and move your arms and legs, that's how you make a snow angel. Snow Angels are so pretty. Build a house? What do they call a house made out of snow? An igloo! Right. Another thing you can do with snow is to make a snowman. Are you too small to make a snowman? No, you are not! You are just the right size. If your snowman is really big you might need help to put the head on. I want to read a story to you about a little girl named Nell. The big people in her family always told her that she was too small to do anything. You will never guess what she could do even though she was small. Let's read the story and find out."
I show them the cover and they guess right away what little Nell could do even though she was small. The book is titled; The Biggest Best Snowman. As I read the book we stop and discuss the way the big people are talking to her.
"They are not very nice. And they are loud. They won't let her do anything. They say she is too small. She looks so sad. Do you think she is too small?"
"Then her friends helped her feel better. What do they help her do? Yes, they are making a snowman. Do you think it will be a teeny tiny one? Let's read and find out. "
"Wow, it is the biggest best snowman ever!"
"What does her family think about her now that she made the snowman? Yes, the mom says she is small, but she can do things."
"Yay! What a fun and happy ending to the story."
"My snowman was not that big. Wow, Nell's snowman was the biggest best snowman ever!"
Today we are going to do things backwards. We are going to draw our snowman first and then we will write our sentence. I am going to show you a video where this man teaches us how to draw a snowman. Before we watch the video I need you to go to your tables. I already have your papers on your table with a basket of pencils. Do not touch the paper or the pencils. We will watch the video and then draw what the man tells us to draw.
I set up the video on the Smart Board. All you see is the man's arms as he draws. He has one of his children on the left that is older and can draw really well and he has a younger child on the other side that is still struggling with fine motor skills. This video shows that anyone can draw a snowman. I set the curser on the stop icon and we listen to the first part, the snow. I stop the video and tell them to draw their snow. I walk around and help a couple of students erase or get new paper because they had already drawn a snowman. Oops, they weren't listening. When everyone had the snow drawn, I told them to put their pencils down. I played the video until the largest ball had been drawn. I stopped the video and told them to pick up their pencils and draw the middle snowball. When you are done, put your pencil down.
We went through this process until the eyes, carrots, arms, scarf and hat were drawn. Put your pencils down.
"The video is over, and you have all drawn the biggest best snowman. That was so much fun to draw a snowman by following the man's directions. Now I want you to write a sentence about your snowman. What could you say about a snowman? Someone said, 'My snowman is big'. Oh, I like that. What else could we say? 'My snowman is little.' 'My snowman is happy.' 'My snowman is cute." These are great sentences. I am going to model a few sentences on the board. When I write a sentence, what do I put at the beginning? A 'capital', that's right. what do I put in between the words? Spaces! What goes at the end to tell everyone that you are done? A period. Great. Your job is to write a sentence all by yourself. You all know how to sound out your words to write so try as best you can. I will walk around,and will help you."
I have class helpers to pass out the papers to every table. I dismiss my students by row color so there is not a traffic jam at the cubbies when they get their pencil boxes.
When everyone is finished, we gather on the carpet to read our sentences and show off our pictures. I call up one row at a time to stand in front of the class to orally read their sentences. I found my students are more confident and willing to read when they are surrounded by their peers. It is important for my students to have multiple opportunities to listen, speak, read and write. Everyone is given the opportunity to read. We applaud and cheer after each reading.
I love to use videos to introduce my topic or to review my lesson. Videos are a fun way to review content concepts and vocabulary. I show videos at the end of the day when my students are packed up and ready for dismissal. Here is the video of the story being read.